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Talento de barrio(2008)
Edgar Dinero is an angry young man from the slums of Puerto Rico who gets tangled between the thug life of his neighborhood and the beat of his barrio. On that path Edgar encounters disruption among his crewmen while falling in love with an uptown girl, from whom he must conceal his ties with the violent barrio underworld. Edgar may run, but he can't hide from the corrupt cops and the full-blown turf war amongst his men. Soon enough Edgar is faced with two choices: die as the Boss of the underworld or live as the King of Reggaeton.
For more about Talento de barrio and the Talento de barrio Blu-ray release, see Talento de barrio Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on January 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Daddy Yankee, Maestro, Katiria Soto, César Farrait, Angélica Alcaide, Norma Colón
Director: José Iván Santiago
» See full cast & crew
Talento de barrio Blu-ray Review
The Latino offspring of Menace to Society and 8 Mile...
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, January 20, 2010
If you're like me, you probably took one look at the cover of Talento de Barrio and assumed the title of the film is Daddy Yankee. After all, they plastered the name of the lead actor in bold lettering across the top, leaving only a slim section of the bottom corner for the true title. For all intents and purposes, the film probably should have been called "Daddy Yankee's Talento de Barrio", given his immense popularity as a reggaeton artist in Latin America. Considering I'm not that familiar with Latin hip-hop, the name Daddy Yankee means little to me, so I'm assuming his involvement in the film won't influence the purchase decision for most American consumers. Nevertheless, a brief look at the history of Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez (Daddy Yankee) makes it abundantly clear he's earned his designation as one of the most influential musical artists in Latin society, and hopes to extend his reach beyond the welcoming arms of his current fan base. In that regard, it's only natural to see the 32-year-old artist step in front of a camera and follow the path of countless American hip-hop stars.
As a young man living in the Puerto Rican hood, Edgar Dinero (Raymond Ayala) garnered a respectable following of lowlife thugs who depend on his influence over the local drug trade to keep them employed. Despite the negative impact his business has over the public housing project he considers his turf, Edgar rules the streets with compassion, honesty and respect, showing zero tolerance for random acts of violence, but never willing to back down from a fight. Throw in the occasional inconvenience of pesky local cops with the prevalence of gun violence between rival gangs, and one could say Edgar lives a life of indulgence and danger. As attractive as the wealth and power may seem to those around Edgar, he longs for the opportunity to make a legitimate living away from the drugs and violence that plagued his youth. When an opportunity arises with a local music producer he takes the high road and entrusts the drug trade to his two closest assistants. All seems well at first, as his relationship with an uptown girl blossoms into the beginning of a family, but he soon finds himself pulled into the trappings of his prior life. As the saying goes, you can take the man out of the street, but you can't take the street out of the man.
Simply put, Talento de Barrio fails to bring anything new to the table aside from the Latin point of view. It's difficult not to draw comparisons between the rags-to-riches story of 8 Mile or the equally violent Menace to Society, but Talento de Barrio seems to believe it's alright to borrow from these films so long as they change the setting. To a certain extent I can forgive the similarities and simply enjoy the Latin offering in its own right, but I'd imagine most viewers won't be as forgiving.
Similarities aside, the primary flaw that stands out in the plot department is the film's insistence on glossing over key elements of the story. At one point in the film, a rival gang shows up with guns blazing and murders everyone in sight. What instigated this action is seemingly unimportant to the plot, yet it's viewed as the catalyst for Edgar's decision to change his path. Along a similar line, the story never establishes the relationship between Edgar and random people that emerge around him. For instance, a popular hip-hop star announces to the entire audience that he owes everything to Edgar, but we have no idea how the two men are connected. Additionally, one of Edgar's henchmen plays a large role in the conclusion of the film, but when we're first introduced to him (following his release from jail), you never get the sense he's a trustworthy guy. I can't imagine Edgar made it to a position of power by placing blind faith in unproven comrades, so the lack of a compelling history damages the credibility of the film.
Digging into the acting, I'd suggest you temper your expectations accordingly. I only possess a cursory knowledge of the Spanish language, so judging the quality of the acting is a bit more difficult than usual. When you remove the ability to tell if lines are delivered in a natural manner, you're forced to focus more attention on body language and emotional displays to arrive at a conclusion regarding performances that seem a bit spotty. Raymond Ayala fairs well in his role as Edgar, delivering a performance that's both likeable and off-putting at the same time. Likewise, Maestro and Cesar Farrait show promise as Edgar's lead henchmen, with one becoming the angel on Edgar's shoulder, and the other playing the devil behind his back. Aside from those three actors, I can't say I was overly impressed with anyone in the ensemble cast, which is a shame considering the emotional weight of the plot and the volume of actors involved in the production.
Talento de barrio Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 23Mbps), Talento de Barrio suffers from limitations in the source material and some disappointing stylistic choices on the part of the cinematography. When I refer to the style of the film, I'm mainly decrying the intentional yellowing of the entire image, to give the film a dingy attribute. I can understand the desire to paint the slums in a negative light, but for anyone who's visited Puerto Rico this simply doesn't seem like an accurate representation of the environment. I'm convinced the cinematography could have shown the poverty-stricken atmosphere while still retaining a sense of normalcy in the visuals. The other source-related deficiency comes in the form of fine object detail, which only shows fleeting moments of excellence between lengthy stretches of muddled quality. The camerawork definitely falls within the amateur category, but properly focused shots should still manage to consistently reveal fine textures on the surface of facial skin, which is simply not the case here. Lastly, a primary weakness I'd attribute to the transfer is a shallow sense of depth in the darker sequences, where contrast struggles to reveal gradual shade transitions. Part of the problem is related to a lack of quality in the blackest of blacks, but even if the black levels were a little deeper, I'd imagine the problem would remain.
Talento de barrio Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with any non-English language release, I prefer to listen to the audio track that contains the original dialog. In the case of Talento de Barrio, this meant my only option is a lossy 2.0 mix with marginal proficiency. Listening to nuances of the track, there's a certain muffled quality to the dialog or environmental effects, which became all the more apparent during moments when the soundtrack comes thundering to the forefront. As expected from a 2-channel mix, every element is firmly planted in the front soundstage with little side-to-side separation and uninspired range (for a perfect example, listen to the pathetic pop of gun discharge during the territorial brawl of the opening scene). I'd imagine this is the best we're going to get given the budgetary constraints the sound crew had to work within, but it's too bad the other elements in the mix don't match the robust nature of Daddy Yankee's studio recordings.
Talento de barrio Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Interviews (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0): If you're fortunate enough to speak Spanish, there's a lengthy collection of cast interviews included on the disc. Considering I don't speak Spanish and there are no subtitles available, I have no idea whether this is a worthwhile supplement.
Talento de barrio Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Offering a recommendation on Talento de Barrio is a sticky situation that will largely hinge on the taste of each individual viewer. If you're able to appreciate a foreign production without comparing it to superior Hollywood offerings in the same genre, I'd assume you'll find enough entertainment value to warrant at least a rental. However, if you have a natural tendency to watch every film with a critical attention to detail, and look for originality as partial criteria for your enjoyment of a given production, I'd recommend you avoid Talento de Barrio and save yourself the frustration.
Talento de barrio Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Talento de Barrio Gets Top Latino Blu-ray Award - April 29, 2009
Maya Home Entertainment's Blu-ray release of 'Talento de Barrio' won for Best Blu-ray Disc at the fifth annual Latino DVD Awards yesterday, held at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA. Similar to other awards hosted by Home Media Magazine, the winners ...
Talento de barrio Blu-ray Screenshots
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